Can you successfully learn a language online?

by Cindy Boesel

It's safe to say that technology altered the ways in which we educate ourselves and acquire new skills. The internet played a particular role in changing the face of education. Today, the web offers access to lots of free learning materials, some of which are provided by recognized schooling institutions and top universities.

When it comes to language learning, focused apps and learning websites have never been more popular. People around the world use various tools to learn new languages or improve those they already speak. But can you really learn a language online? Read on to find out.

Online learning - the benefits

The main advantages of online language learning are similar to those of online learning in general - the accessibility of numerous learning materials, or the possibility of listening to music, watching films and purchasing books written in a foreign language.

Online language courses are perfect for those who have a very busy schedule, but would love to broaden their horizons. Learning in this mode is flexible and can be adapted to any schedule, allowing workers to gain new language skills and further their careers without spending time and money on commuting.

Because of the autonomy involved in the process, online language learning is great for building self-knowledge and self-confidence, encouraging students to be responsible for their own learning process. Students can compose their own lesson plan and prioritize those skills they consider most important or challenging in learning a new language.

Repetition is crucial in learning foreign languages and online environments clearly favor it - students can replay a class or lecture many times, learning at their own pace in a comfortable environment. Involving lots of multimedia and offering new learning methods, online language learning can serve as an easy solution for getting the hang of a new language.

Online learning - the challenges

The autonomy of the learning process is probably the biggest risk of online language learning, at least for those students who find it hard to keep their motivation level high. If self-motivating isn't your forte, you might benefit from online classes with teachers or group conference classes, where you share the experience with others and so are motivated to join the video lecture at a specific time and day.

Another challenge of online learning is technical - in order to benefit from this kind of education, prospective language students must own a technological device, such as a computer, tablet or smartphone, and be able to connect to a fast internet connection.

Can you successfully learn a language online?

The answer to this question isn't easy and straightforward. Online environments foster communication, so if you want to maintain and perfect your language skills, finding a conversation partner won't be hard. But languages are just a part of a larger context - the local culture.

Without getting acquainted with that broader view, you cannot situate your linguistic knowledge - that's why visiting a country where the language is spoken is crucial. Online learning tools will never provide you with the same experience as talking to locals who share their culture in their own environment.

About the writer

Cindy Boesel works at She is interested in the European startup scene and the possibilities of international business cooperation.


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